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Broader input options bolster diversity in emblem

        The adoption of bronze, brass, copper, PVC and silicone is expanding design variety.

        China suppliers of emblem and lapel pins are boosting product differentiation via wider material selection. For upscale models, bronze, copper and brass are increasingly used because of their high malleability and suitability for complex patterns. These inputs are also the heaviest among all metal options.

        Several manufacturers still prefer zinc and lead-tin alloys for 3D designs.   Although lightweight and not as easy to mold as the abovementioned choices, they cost less. Such materials are often utilized for midrange and high-end releases.

        Companies are adopting steel in many low-end pieces. For increased rust resistance, items are electroplated. In terms of embellishment, makers employ plastic as the input can impart gradient colors. The common options are PVC, silicone and epoxy.

        Logos and other details are applied through silk-screening, pad transfer-printing, oil and liquid pressing, punching, painting, and hard and imitation enameling. The last two provide the sharpest patterns and hues. Imitation enameling, however, yields a shinier surface and a wider range of shades.

        In light of surging demand for environment-friendly products, suppliers expect releases in recyclable and sustainable materials such as wood and bamboo to gain ground in the next few years. To this end, companies are shifting from electroplating to polishing as the primary method of finishing because the former requires the use of chemical agents and produces wastewater.

        The materials and logo application method are the main price determinants for emblem and lapel pins from China.

        Standard low-end models are entirely made of PVC or steel, and are 0.5 to 1mm thick. Patterns are often silk-screened or pad transfer-printed and have fewer color variations. Quotes are $0.10 to $0.30.

        Zinc and lead-tin alloys, and other metal combinations, meanwhile, are typically adopted for midrange pieces. Some come with PVC and epoxy parts as ornamentation. Aside from the methods utilized in less expensive versions, designs are placed via punching and molding. Going for $0.35 to $0.85, products have a thickness of at least 1mm.

        Upscale lapel pins are more than 1mm thick and use bronze, brass, copper and zinc alloy. Most boast intricate details, and polished and electroplated surfaces. A number of releases even feature multiple layers of chrome plating. Prices start at $0.90 and can exceed $2.

        In the next six months, quotes of emblem pins from China are anticipated to go up between 10 and 20 percent due to the strengthening yuan, and swelling labor and material outlay.

        To illustrate, makers project about a 6 percent rise in the yuan’s current value by the end of 2011.

        Manpower spending, meanwhile, experienced a 20 percent YoY increase. Aggravating the cost situation is the fluctuating price of oil brought about by political tension in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

        Despite these challenges, companies are confident exports will remain stable in coming months because of the industry’s well-established supply chain.

        Makers estimate China accounts for 60 percent of the world’s output of emblem and lapel pins.

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